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Full Online Book HomeEssaysAmong My Books - Second Series - MILTON. Continues 3 - Footnotes 358 - 383
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Among My Books - Second Series - MILTON. Continues 3 - Footnotes 358 - 383 Post by :Pinky Category :Essays Author :James Russell Lowell Date :April 2012 Read :2472

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Among My Books - Second Series - MILTON. Continues 3 - Footnotes 358 - 383

MILTON. Continues 3 - Footnotes 358 - 383

(358) The Life of John Milton: narrated in Connection with the Political, Ecclesiastical, and Literary History of his Time. By David Masterson, M.D., LL.D. Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature in the University of Edinburgh. Vols. I., II. 1638-1643. London and New York: Macmillan & Co. 1871. 8vo. pp. xii, 608.

The Poetical Works of John Milton, edited, with Introduction, Notes and an Essay on Milton's English by David Masson, M.A., LL.D. Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature in the University of Edinburgh. 3 vols. 8vo. Macmillan & Co. 1874.

(359) Book I. 562-567.

(360) Ibid., 615-618.

(361) Apology for Smectymnuus.


(362)
"For him I was not sent, nor yet to free
That people, victor once, now vile and base,
Deservedly made vassal."--P.R. IV. 131-133.

(363) If things are to be scanned so micrologically, what weighty inferences might not be drawn from Mr. Masson's invariably printing (Greek: _apax legomena_!)


(364)
"That you may tell heroes, when you come
To banquet with your wife."

_Chapman's Odyssey_, VIII. 336, 337.

In the facsimile of the sonnet to Fairfax I find

"Thy firm unshak'n vertue ever brings,"

which shows how much faith we need give to the apostrophe.

(365) Mr. Masson might have cited a good example of this from Drummond, whom (as a Scotsman) he is fond of quoting for an authority in English,--

"Sleep, Silence' child, sweet father of soft rest."

The survival of _Horse for _horses is another example. So by a reverse process _pult and _shay have been vulgarly deduced from the supposed plurals _pulse and _chaise_.

(366) Chapman's spelling is presumably his own. At least he looked after his printed texts. I have two copies of his "Byron's Conspiracy," both dated 1608, but one evidently printed later than the other, for it shows corrections. The more solemn ending in _ed was probably kept alive by the reading of the Bible in churches. Though now dropped by the clergy, it is essential to the right hearing of the more metrical passages in the Old Testament, which are finer and more scientiflc than anything in the language, unless it be some parts of "Samson Agonistes." I remember an old gentleman who always used the contracted form of the participle in conversation, but always gave it back its embezzled syllable in reading. Sir Thomas Browne seems to have preferred the more solemn form. At any rate he has the spelling _empuzzeled in prose.

(367) He thinks the same of the variation _strook and _struck_, though they were probably pronounced alike. In Marlowe's "Faustus" two consecutive sentences (in prose) begin with the words "Cursed be he that struck." In a note on the passage Mr. Dyce tells us that the old editions (there were three) have _stroke and _strooke in the first instance, and all agree on _strucke in the second. No inference can be drawn from such casualties.

(368) The lines are _not "from one of the Satires," and Milton made them worse by misquoting and bringing _love jinglingly near to _grove_. Hall's verse (in his Satires) is always vigorous and often harmonious. He long before Milton spoke of rhyme almost in the very terms of the preface to Paradise Lost.

(369) Mr. Masson goes so far as to conceive it possible that Milton may have committed the vulgarism of leaving a _t out of _slep'st_, "for ease of sound." Yet the poet could bear _boast'st and--one stares and gasps at it--_doat'dst_. There is, by the way, a familiar passage in which the _ch sound predominates, not without a touch of _sh_, in a single couplet:--

"Can any mortal mixture of earth's mould Breathe su_ch divine enchanting ravi_sh_ment?"

So

"Blotches and blains must all his flesh emboss,"

and perhaps

"I see his tents
Pitched about Sechem"
might be added.


(370) I think Coleridge's nice ear would have blamed the nearness of _enemy and _calamity in this passage. Mr. Masson leaves out the comma after _If not_, the pause of which is needful, I think, to the sense, and certainly to keep _not a little farther apart from _what_, ("teach each"!)

(371) "First in his East," is not soothing to the ear.

(372) There seems to be something wrong in this word _shores_. Did Milton write _shoals_?

(373) But his etymological notes are worse. For example, "_recreant_, renouncing the faith, from the old French _recroire_, which again is from the mediaeval Latin _recredere_, to 'believe back,' or apostatize." This is pure fancy. The word had no such meaning in either language. He derives _serenate from _sera_, and says that _parle means treaty, negotiation, though it is the same word as _parley_, had the same meanings, and was commonly pronounced like it, as in Marlowe's

"What, shall we _parle with this Christian?"

It certainly never meant _treaty_, though it may have meant _negotiation_. When it did it implied the meeting face to face of the principals. On the verses

"And some flowers and some bays
For thy hearse to strew the ways,"

he has a note to tell us that _hearse is not to be taken "in our sense of a carriage for the dead, but in the older sense of a tomb or framework over a tomb," though the obvious meaning is "to strew the ways for thy hearse." How could one do that for a tomb or the framework over it?

(374) A passage from Dante (Inferno, XI. 96-105), with its reference to Aristotle, would have given him the meaning of "Nature taught art," which seems to puzzle him. A study of Dante and of his earlier commentators would also have been of great service in the astronomical notes.

(375) Almost every combination of two vowels might in those days be a diphthong or not, at will. Milton's practice of elision was confirmed and sometimes (perhaps) modified by his study of the Italians, with whose usage in this respect he closely conforms.

(376) Letter to Rev. W. Bagot, 4th January, 1791.


(377) So Dante:--
"Ma sapienza e amore e virtute."
So Donne:--
"Simony and sodomy in churchmen's lives."


(378) Mr. Masson is evidently not very familiar at first hand with the versification to which Milton's youthful ear had been trained, but seems to have learned something from Abbott's "Shakespearian Grammar" in the interval between writing his notes and his Introduction. Walker's "Shakespeare's Versification" would have been a great help to him in default of original knowledge.

(379) Milton has a verse in Comus where the _e is elided from the word _sister by its preceding a vowel:--

"Heaven keep my sister! again, again, and near!"

This would have been impossible before a consonant.

(380) So _spirito and _spirto in Italian, _esperis and _espirs in Old French.

(381) Milton, however, would not have balked at _th' bottomless any more than Drayton at _th' rejected or Donne at _th' sea_. Mr. Masson does not seem to understand this elision, for he corrects _i' th' midst to _i' the midst_, and takes pains to mention it in a note. He might better have restored the _n in _i'_, where it is no contraction, but merely indicates the pronunciation, as _o' for _of and _on_.

(382) Exactly analogous to that in treasurer when it is shortened to two syllables.

(383) Milton himself has _invisible_, for we cannot suppose him guilty of a verse like

"Shoots invisible virtue even to the deep,"

while, if read rightly, it has just one of those sweeping elisions that he loved.

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